Bettina's Take: Alvin Valley's Return, At Last


Photo courtesy of Alvin Valley

Bettina and Alvin Valley.

Alvin Valley, the King of Pants, is a sartorial magician. His pants can make any woman, from skinny to curvy, look spectacularly lean and sexy.

"I'm Cuban," explains the designer. "Cuban women have tiny waists, and they have hips. I know how important the right cut is to flatter every shape."

One of the reasons is the built-in waistband that hugs you like a pair of Spanx.

"It hides everything," he says with enthusiasm.

Valley's pants were on every chic-ster in the early to mid aughts, then suddenly, they weren't. He had sold the rights to his name in an agreement gone wrong, and he fought relentlessly to get it back.

FashionEtc caught up with the designer at his recent trunk show, at one of the city's loveliest event spaces, 583 Park Avenue, while a bevy of Alvin's beautiful and fashionable friends, including Nicole Mellon, Emilia Fanjul, Coralie Charriol Paul, Shirin Von Wulffen, Hillary Dick, Libby Karmely, RoAnn Costin, and Karen Klopp, came by to shop and chat.

How will your collections differ, design-wise, from previous years?

Fashion is an evolution, and as I have grown, and in between left fashion and came back, I feel that much more sophisticated in the sense that old styles no longer work. I know that many of my clients still love the the classic 111 style, but they expect something new from me... and from the reaction and the sells we have a winner with the 192, every woman has bought that - including you.

What are your best sellers, and why?

The 192 skinny, it's super chic and a bit daring... it takes everyone out of their comfort zone, but really flatters every woman. Also the 198, it's incredibly chic and also iconic. especially in the two tone grays. The 199 is beyond chic and really doing well.

What do you design besides pants?

I am offering via our trunk show events across the country a few key blouses, and a couple of jackets... But slowly it will be a full collection. I don't want to stray away from owning the pants.

Why have you decided to forgo selling in stores? Where will your line be available for purchase?

My business partner Alex Dulac approached me a couple of years ago and said, I will help you get your brand back, but you need to lead the pack by going direct to consumer, so basically online. I was shocked!! I said ,"You want me to leave Saks, Neiman's, and Bergdorf for online???" I thought he was crazy. But it seemed to be the right thing, since now with all the social media platforms, I can communicate directly with clients, and my voice is clear, so why not also own the sales??? Also, by cutting the middle man we can have a disruptive price point that is beneficial for women.

The couture dress you made for Rena Kirdar Sindi was so popular, you got 10 orders from Facebook alone. Do you have a couture collection, and where can it be seen?

At the moment I am trying to stay focused on the pants and that seems to take most of my time... But of course for Rena I would jump off a bridge if she asked me. I love her and her sense of humor and she is one of my closest friends. I really just wanted to celebrate with her during her wedding, and we both worked on that dress together. The orders just came in as a side note... I wasn't expecting that.

How important is social media in the marketing of your line, and how do you use it?

Social media is the key to our success. As you mentioned via Facebook and twitter people can hear my voice. It's a great communicator. We have been helped a lot by Cooper Cox from Disruptive Media Lab, who has engineered all of our platforms and sort of controlled the messages... making sure that it's clear. We are now fully on to Pinterest, I am in love with it since I am a total visual creature. Tumblr and Instagram I am getting the hang of.

Where do you envision the brand ten years from now?

Well that's a story that I cannot foresee. I started in 1995 with a store, so I feel i want to have that personal connection with people... So maybe many global stores, but who knows... especially with technology developing so fast.

What do you do to relax?

I read a lot. I buy about 10 books a week. Every Saturday, I am in Long Island buying books after breakfast... But now I am also photographing tons... And I love to go sailing every so often...

We missed you, Alvin. Welcome back.

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